Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Soba Noodles with Super Protein Sauce

Combining buckwheat Soba noodles with a creamy, healthy mango-kale-tofu sauce to make a quick and delicious meal! Terrific served hot or cold!

12 oz Extra Firm Tofu
1/2 lb Kale, stems removed
10 oz Soba noodles
13 oz. Light Coconut Milk
8 oz. Peanut Sauce (365 Whole Foods brand is a great store brand)
Sriracha sauce, to taste
2 Mangoes, pitted and chopped into large pieces
2 tbl Sesame Oil
Zest of 1 lime
Soy Sauce
Sesame seeds, toasted

- Preheat oven to 350 degF
- Cook noodles according to package, rinse with cold water, toss with half the coconut milk and set aside
- Cube tofu - combine with 2 tbl peanut sauce, squirt of sriracha, lime zest, and 2 tbl soy sauce. Place in a foil packet, seal and put in oven for 30-45 mins
- Roast mango for 10 mins in oven
- Combine tofu and sauce mixture, mangoes, kale, and the remainder of the coconut milk in food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and season 
- Toss with noodles, sesame seeds, and season to taste
- Top with veggies of choice [charred green onions and sweet peppers in the picture]

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dinner at e by Jose Andres

The opportunity to dine at e by Jose Andres. Now that is a Christmas present!!

The 'golden ticket' arrived in December and the excitement built until it was SHOWTIME! Located in a room inside of Jaleo at the Cosmo hotel, Jose Andres's 8 seat restaurant experience was one of our culinary highlights. Truly a unique and fun dining experience - the perfectly timed molecular gastronomy was inventive, exciting, and delicious. The cuisine was based in traditional Spanish cooking and used the more modern techniques to display the flavors. A highlight was talking to and questioning the chefs as they prepared each course right in front of us!

Below is the picture diary of a terrific meal and evening:

Pre-dinner picture in front of the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmo
Our Golden Tickets!

Our chefs for the evening preparing the opening cocktail. 

Opening cocktail: Rebujito - sherry with compressed thyme mousse.
Flavorful and incredibly aromatic

Truffle Cotton Candy and Idiazabal "Macaron"
Unbelievable truffled cotton candy in a mold of Jose's hand!
The Macaron was the best game-day snack I could imagine

Apple "Brazo de Gitano"
Served on a bed of cold rocks, the outer cup would melt
quickly so this was eaten in one bite. Cold apple cup,
salty, crunchy caviar!

Seta Surprise
Terrific combination of textures and flavors -
blue cheese mousse, hazelnut dash, and an airy
meringue skin

Jen's dish: Barquillo
Clams with encapsulated clam juice
Nik's dish: Oliva Sferica Ferran Adria
Made famous at el bulli - awesome. no other words

Almejas al Natural
Bocata de Bacalao
Nik's had confit red peppers
Quite a contrast in texture and a fun way to show off
a traditional dish

Crispy Chicken Skin in Escabeche with thyme air
Otherwordly: homey, crunchy, downright yummy 

Cava Sangria
Truly a burst of flavors
Artichoke "puree' with Vanilla
One of my top courses of the evening. Interesting texture
on the artichoke puree, vanilla was a perfect compliment

Lobster with Citrus and Jasmine
Jen - brilliant bites of flavor

Chickpea Stew with Iberico Ham
The spheres of delicate 'chick peas' played with the stew
of liquified Iberico Ham and dots of chili and parsely oil.
Licked the plate

Turbot with Bone Marrow
Jen ate one of the entire deep-fried bone marrow nuggets.
Not her favorite part of the evening.

Nik's: Zuccini in Textures
Highlight of the Night for me! Zucchini juice gelee,
candied zuccini seeds, roasted zuccini custard. I'm not a zucchini
fan normally and this was off the charts good

Secreto of Iberico Pork with Squid
This was good, but I more remember the
2000 White Rioja paired with this. What minerality and depth!

The LOBE of Foie - salt crusted...

And the HUGE lobe of foie served with a
Clementine puree.
Decadent and outstanding

Torta Pascualete with Cotton Candy
Let the desserts begin! The cheese course featured
candied hazelnuts and sweetness provided by
a compressed cotton candy sphere that 'melted' into the dish.

Plating the next course! Pretty amazing to watch the chef
work right in front of our table of 7!

Pan con Chocolate
The picture doesn't do this course justice:
A river of freeze-dried chocolate over a saffron custard
and olive oil at the bottom. One of the top desserts
I have ever had

Arroz con Leche
Flan with flowers and ice

25 second Bizcocho (foreground)
Cocoa Paper with Dried Strawberrys
Great way to end - the cake was airy with a mousse filling
The Paper had an interesting (in a good way) texture and flavor

Jen with her menu!

The cocktail finale: Gin and Tonic
The flavors of gin with a compressed ice cube


Our Team - terrific service throughout the evening

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Arugula Pesto Pasta with Turkey Meatballs

The arugula pesto is bright and peppery, the turkey meatballs provide a great source of protein, and the pasta is made creamy by the addition of the whipped cream cheese which melts with the heat of the pasta (thanks Mom for the trick)!

The Final Product!
Arugula Pesto:
5 c. Arugula
1 medium onion, quartered
8 garlic cloves, roasted in olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
2 tbl lemon juice
1/4 c. grated sharp cheese (romano, parm, or any other choice)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 c Olive Oil

Note: This makes a light and quick pesto without the added fat of pinenuts or tons of cheese!

- Combine all ingredients except the EVOO in a food processor and blend until mixed
- Stream in the EVOO
- Season to taste!

Turkey Meatball Pasta
1 lb Whole Wheat Fusili
4.5 oz Shallots, Onions and Garlic
4 oz Whipped Cream Cheese
1 lb Turkey Meatballs, quartered
1/3 c dry White Wine (Sav Blanc, roussanne...)

- Boil salted water for the pasta
- Sweat the shallots, onions, and garlic in a large skiller over medium heat with 1 tbl olive oil for 5 mins
- Add quartered turkey meatballs (note: if frozen, you may have to microwave for 2-3 mins to cut) and brown for 5-10 mins
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine, cover, and cook for 10 mins
- Cook the pasta according to the package
- Drain and add immediately to the meatballs, pesto (see above), and cream cheese. Stir and the heat of the pasta will melt the cream cheese creating your pesto "cream" sauce!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gyoza Chicken Wontons Coconut Rice (Trader Joe's style)

One of my favorite ways to jazz up Trader Joe's ingredients for a quick, healthy, and flavor-packed meal! Steaming the gyoza in a mixture of light coconut milk and peanut sauce infuses terrific flavor and imparts a creamy texture. Dinner for 4 in 25 mins for under $20!

Serves 4

2 packages Chicken Gyoza
1 package Mini Cilantro Chicken Wontons
2 packages Microwave rice (Jasmine, Brown, or Rice Medley)
2 cans Light Coconut Milk
1/4 c Peanut Sauce (the TJs one works)
3 tbl Soy Sauce
2 tbl Sake
3 tbl Sesame Oil

- Heat 2 tbl sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the Gyoza, and cook for 5 mins stirring occasionally so they don't stick
- Reduce heat to medium-low, add one can of light coconut milk and the peanut sauce, cover and cook for 15 mins
- Microwave the mini cilantro chicken wontons, covered with a damp cloth, for 3 mins
- Heat remaining sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add wontons, and cook shaking the pan for 3 mins
- Deglaze pan with sake, add soy sauce, cook (stirring often) until the liquid is dissolved and the wontons have a slightly crispy exterior
- Cook rice according to the package adding 1/4 c light coconut milk to the rice before it is microwaved
- Serve Gyoza and wontons over the rice - Enjoy!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Caesar Salad Espuma

Here's a fun way to eat salad, molecular gastronomy style! Makes an impressive starter for a dinner party or a week night meal. Take the concept and apply it to your favorite salad!

I received a molecular gastronomy kit for Christmas and the nerdy engineer side of me was stoked to bring even more chemistry to my cooking to transform the textures and flavors into unique combinations to excite conversation around the food!

Note: The addition of turkey bacon makes the dish healthier, but feel free to use your favorite bacon!

Thanks to Cuisine R-evolution for the framework of this recipe!

1 egg
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Sweet Hot mustard (the Trader Joes version is awesome!)
1 tsp capers
1 tbl bacon bits (see below)
1.5 tbl lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2/3 c vegetable oil
3 tsp grated parm or romano cheese
1 head of lettuce washed
1 loaf rye bread, crusted and cubed
1 N2O gas cartridge

- Preheat oven to 350 degF
- Cook turkey bacon until crispy, cut into bits and set aside
- Spray bread cubes with EVOO (or toss with your favorite oil), season with S&P, cook until croutons are crispy (15-20 mins), set aside
- In blender, mix first 9 ingredients
- Stream in oil
- Add parm, Xanthan Gum, and the lettuce (Note: Depending on your blender, it may have to be combined in a food processor and then transferred back to the blender to finish)
- Blend until well pureed and pass through a fine mesh sieve
- Pour into a 0.5 liter Culinary Whipper (I use an iSi whipper that is awesome) and set aside for at least an hour (XG needs time to absorb and hydrate to display its full talents)
- Shake for 8 seconds, dispense according to the directions of the whipper, and serve with the croutons and bacon bits

Wines: Curran Grenache Blanc,  Qupe Marsanne

Caesar Salad Espuma with Turkey Bacon Bits and Rye Croutons

Indian Feast

An Indian Feast was created for a night of winetasting with friends consisting of: Mango-red pepper chutney, curried turkey meatballs, butternut squash curry, chai tea foam and plumped raisins. It came together terrifically - it can work made all together or pick and choose portions of the dinner to create a different experience!

Mango Red Pepper Chutney 

Best made a few days ahead of time to let the flavors mingle. Make some extra as it has a tremendous variety of uses throughout the week!

Mango Red Pepper Chutney

The red pepper adds excellent flavor and texture to the sweetness of the mango/golden raisins and the acidity of the vinegar. Texture is perfect after a day or two in the fridge!

Butternut Squash Curry

1 medium onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 serranos, seeds removed
1/3 c dry white wine
1 small piece of ginger, peeled
2 tbl cumin
3 tbl curry powder
2 tbl coriander seeds
2 tbl tumeric
1 lime
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 15 oz can pureed tomatoes
1 can light coconut milk
1 c spicy red wine (Grenache, carmenere, Pinot)

- Roast squash, serranos, and onions in a 350 degF oven for 15-20 mins
- Puree onions, garlic, serranos, white wine, ginger in the food processor until smooth
- Toast cumin, curry powder, coriander seeds, zest of the lime in a skillet for 5 mins until the flavors and aromas begin to let loose
- Add puree mixture and squash and cook uncovered for 10-15 mins
- Add lime juice and red wine and cook for 5 more mins over med-high heat
- Coconut milk and tomatoes and another 2 tbl curry powder and tumeric
- Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45-60 mins or until the flavors have developed. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Plumped Raisins
1 large piece ginger, peeled and chopped fine
1.5 c white wine (a little fruitiness here works well - Roussane, Riesling, Gewurtz)
1 c Orange Juice
1 c Golden Raisins
Mint leaves, torn to release flavor

Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week

Curried Turkey Meatballs
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves
1 medium piece of ginger, peeled
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
2 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
1 egg
1/3 c panko bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 14 oz can light coconut milk

- Preheat oven to 425 degF
- Puree first 7 ingredients in a food processor
- Combine puree with turkey, egg, bread crumbs and S&P, mix well
- Combine coconut milk with 2 cups of the curry (above) and cook in a sauce pan over medium heat until reduced by 1/3
- Form turkey mixture into balls of any size, place on a cookie sheet and spray with EVOO or Canola oil spray
- Cook for 25-35 mins rotating every 10 mins and brushing with the sauce (note: cooking time will vary depending on the size of the meatballs. They should be firm to the touch when finished)

Chai Tea Foam
2/3 c strong brewed chai tea
2/3 c light coconut milk
2 g Soy Lecitin

- Combine all ingredients in a bowl (square bottomed container work the best)
- Using hand blender, incorporate air bubbles into the solution to produce a good quantity of foam
- Spoon the foam out (Note: the remaining liquid mixture can be blended again to produce more foam)

Congrats! Now that the prep work is done, here's how I served the meal/feast:
1. Chutney out
2. Made whole wheat fusili, topped with the butternut squash curry
3. Turkey meatballs topped with a little of the curry-coconut milk sauce and the chai tea foam
4. Plumped raisins out to be used throughout the meal!

Wines: 2011 Buoncristiani Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Two Shepherd's Grenache Blanc, Municipal Winemakers Grenache

Curried Turkey Meatballs topped with Chai Tea Foam and Fusili with Butternut Squash Curry


Welcome to the very first post - a chance to share recipes, techniques, and ideas for healthy, unique, and flavorful cooking. I developed a passion for cooking growing up in a family featuring a Fishmonger and a chef. A love of eating turned into a passion when I got a kitchen after moving out of the dorms at UCLA. With a background in Chemical Engineering, I enjoy bringing a scientific and experimental approach to food. The love of food brought me into the wine world where I have been fascinated by the winemaking process, techniques, and personalities.

Big, bold flavors - interesting combinations - healthy cooking
Jen and I on our Wedding Day - CIA (Culinary Institute of America)
Killer Raviolios served

To this point, I have shared my food and wine adventures with my family, Facebook friends, and my partner in life and love, Jen! Time to put the proverbial pen to paper (in the digital age) and bring them to the internet!